Mottokrosh Machinations will soon release its second adventure module, designed for Hypertellurians as well as any old or modern fantasy adventure game. It’s an exploration heavy scenario, with many wild and wonderful locations.

Whence the idea?

In Hypertellurians a character has a number of inventory slots equal to their Brawn score. They may use a bag, which takes up 2 of these slots, but has 5 slots’ worth of space—however, retrieving an item from the bag takes an action, whereas from your standard, “at the ready” inventory slots, it does not.

Players being players, the question of bags within bags naturally came up among my playtesters. In traditional D&D, mixing up magical items with extradimensional spaces usually results in explosions. This is fun, but we thought we could do one better, by making nested Hypertellurians magic bags (they would have to be magic, a normal bag in a normal bag is just that) possible in theory, and requiring more and more actions to retrieve items from, the deeper it was placed.

And from that silly idea Brutal Imperilment in the Bag of Infinite Holding was born. An adventure that required the party to enter into an interconnected network of magical bags. Add in a simple premise—the queen has lost possessions and court staff (and her favorite poddle “Duchess”) down the bags—and voilà.

Mockup of the physical book
Twigs not included in the physical books.

What’s in a bag?

The next question was, “how do we make bags exciting adventure locations?” Even if they’re bigger on the inside? Well, that was easy enough: a wizard did it. And by “it” I mean a crazy landscape of mini setpieces complete with its own ecosystem of native “things” that have evolved inside it since its creation. Plus hapless recent additions in the form of scared royal servants, and lost and divided adventurers.

As it turns out, coming up with gonzo mini locations for magical bags comes naturally to this author. And thus, we ended up with things like:

  • Redcap mangrove. Marshy, with a cluster of twisted trees in the middle. The biggest of them have doors nestled in their roots. Some have an exit, others angry redcaps, strangely contorted into the cramped space behind the doors, seemingly in the middle of a private ritual.
  • Floating forest and lizardfolk den. Dozens of jungle trees float along the uneven ceiling. Vines connect them and dangle to half-way down the sandy cave floor, where a tribe of superstitious lizardfolk cannibals are in the process of cooking a previous adventuring group. Exit(s) in the chieftain’s daughter’s tent, amid her favorite souvenirs.
  • The harshest mistress. An endlessly grey sea ravaged by powerful storms, and the various sailing ships and galleons caught in it (one of which is manned by doomed, ghostly sailors), all of which frantically attempt to escape the many deadly maelstroms, at the bottom of which are the exit(s).

Presentation

Rather than mapping out a single path through bags within bags, or putting down fixed locations, we decided to follow a more toolkit approach, by providing several pages of tables with these locations. Together with some simple advice on how to create a map and how to roll up random locations from these tables (and providing a sample, ready to use map, of course), the spelunking enthusiastic GM is ready to go in no time.

Locations aren’t everything; what about the loot? We’ve got you covered there too, with a table of 50 random finds, from the mundane but thematically appropriate, to powerful spells, and weird magic items. For example:

  • A comically large codpiece, made from leather and velvet. It has a small, hidden pocket with a folded piece of paper, upon which a lewd poem of little literary merit is scribed.
  • A badly burnt forearm, the wrist pierced by a large, crude nail. With careful observation, the spell tattooed on it can still be deciphered. It calls upon the caster to tattoo the words upon their own arm. They then pierce their wrist with a nail used to crucify a person, and scream and point at a target, who suffers crippling agony as their insides are filled with dozens of nails, facsimiles of the one the caster used.
  • Several small, wittled dolls clad in adorable fabrics. They were a present to the queen when she was very young by a traveling soothsayer. When they believe no one is looking the dolls sometimes have tea parties, or concerned discussions about the industrial growth society.
  • A dead dove in a battered bird cage. Blood leads from the cage to the nearest bag. The dove has a tiny scrollcase attached to one of its legs, wherein is a curled up piece of paper, which proclaims that whosoever consumes the dove whole will be granted a wish, in exchange for their arms for a year and a day.

Character driven

In our playtests, the ability to choose from premade characters, or use the same (or remaining, unpicked) characters as NPCs, has been well received. As a result, here we include 7 premade character concepts, including the queen herself, with gorgeous illustrations by Alysa Avery. While the book itself only contains the basic attributes for these (but all their traits and quirks), fully statted versions will be separately downloadable for multiple systems. Currently D&D 5e and Hypertellurians are planned, more may follow.

The 7 pregenerated and illustrated characters.
Sweet character sketches by Alysa Avery. Plus one of mine thrown in.

When

The adventure is written, illustrated, and laid out, and is currently in editing. Unlike with A Bride for Dracula, we’re hoping to launch both the digital PDF and the print-on-demand physical version at the same time. It takes a little time to get these things approved, and to receive proofs (and to make adjustments and go for another round, should there be a problem with the first proofs). All in all, we should be looking at a few weeks at the most. Fingers crossed.

Update, March 22nd: It’s now out!

What’s next?

Once this adventure is out the door, so to speak, we’re all hands on deck to bring Hypertellurians into book form. That requires a little bit of extra writing, a few more illustrations, and a whole lot of laying out and editing. Our hard deadline for the printed books for this is the UK Games Expo at the end of May. Oh yeah, did I mention that Mottokrosh Machinations will be exhibiting at this year’s UK Games Expo, with all 3 books (A Bride for Dracula, Brutal Imperilment in the Bag of Infinite Holding, and Hypertellurians; barring catastrophes)? How cool is that?